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when counseling is not an option!!
Nov 17, 1997

i took all the information i gathered from here and other hiv/aids places decided that although my exposure to the virus was low i still had this erational fear..you adviced counseling---it didn't help..so, i decided to go to a lab and with the help of the lab director,ordered every possible test in existence to determine if i was infected...oh, and i wasn't going to wait 6 months to get the pcr dna performed 3 times because you said 0nce was not enough(at 285x3),elisa,suds,rna,neuolaic acid(tests that i cannot even pronounce). and more..all this after a low risk exposure 4.5 weeks ago...i took all the tests to a renoun virologist here in miami...he thought i was crazy but he did say:don't throw any more money away, your not infected!!!". i asked him how he could be so sure and he said because of the resluts of all the tests that i had taken...the reason i'm writting to you is because you continue to tell people that the best thing to know if you've been infected is to take an antibody test at 6 months...the reality of it is that if a person can't wait 6 months and is willing to spend the dollars, at 4 weeks he/she can take all the tests i took and feel good about the results

obviously this is a statement more than a question...and remember that not everyone can get counseling and or wait the six months...

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Hi. Thank you for your comments. Your situation is a perfect example of why counseling IS an important option. It is a waste of laboratory time, precious healthcare dollars, and healthcare resources, for a person at low risk to take multiple HIV tests, like PCR tests, and an ELISA test, and a SUDS test, and Viral load tests, and other HIV tests as well. If you were at low risk for infection, it should come as no surprise that you tested negative on all of these tests! If your exposure was a sexual one, have you also been tested for every single STD that exists, even those you were at low/no risk for? And because none of these tests are 100% accurate, are you going to take them over and over and over? The point I'm trying to make here, is that testing should only be done for those at a realistic risk of infection, and when clinically necessary. I have often noticed that the persons who request these specialized tests the most, are those at the least risk of infection. Why get tested for diseases that you are at low/no risk for?

When you stated that you have an irrational fear of HIV, lab tests do not solve a persons irrational fears. Counseling solves these problems. Mental health problems are best solved with mental health solutions (counseling). Precious healthcare dollars get wasted when tests get done unnecessarily. Think of the money it costs for the lab to perform these tests. When labs have to do unnecessary tests, they have to hire extra staff to do those tests, train those staff, purchase the reagents for those unnecessary tests, etc. This is how healthcare costs increase, even if you pay for the tests yourself. Simply put, taking unnecessary tests raises healthcare costs. In fact, this is a key reason that many insurance companies, HMO's, PPO's, etc., will not pay for clinically unnecessary tests. And as healthcare costs increase further, we are starting to see a rationing of healthcare resources and services. This is why "managed care" has become so common.

If you went to a counselor and they didn't help you, then try a different counselor. Just like no single doctor can help everyone, no single counselor can help everyone either. When you state that not everybody can get counseling, in the majority of cases, they can get counseling if they really want it. In the majority of locations, counseling is as close as your phone book. If you look in the yellow pages under "Mental Health", or a similar heading, you will often find counselors in your area, even in many rural areas. Of course, this may not be true in every single area, and in every single country, but for the majority of persons reading this answer, they have access to counselors if they need them. In cases such as yours, a person does not necessarily have to go to an "AIDS Counselor". Often, problems such as this are based on issues unrelated to AIDS (issues such as guilt, shame, fear, etc.). A general counselor can often help a person deal with these types of issues. They can also help a person cope with the waiting period for antibody testing.

For more information on counseling issues, please go to the "Frequently Asked Questions" area, and read the post, "I can't cope with my fear of AIDS. What should I do?".

If you have any further questions, please feel free to e-mail me at "nvhotline@aol.com" or call me at (Nationwide). I'm glad to help!



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